Me Before You

Me Before You Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6-7


When Lou arrives for work on a snowy day, Mr. Traynor tells her that Will isn’t feeling well and is in bed. Then Mr. Traynor leaves. Since it’s Nathan’s day off, and since Mrs. Traynor is at work as a magistrate, it’s just Lou watching Will. She replaces her wet socks with a pair of Will’s large but dry ones, and then goes to look in on him. He’s sleeping, so she cleans all morning. When she grows concerned about Will, she makes him a drink and knocks to wake him up. Will asks her to help him change positions, since he can’t do so himself. This means that Lou has to sit on his bed and reach her arms all the way around him. This feels shockingly intimate to her, but when she touches Will’s back she realizes that he has a fever and becomes frightened. Will seems calm but uncomfortable, so she offers him painkillers and, when he asks her to, leaves. In the meantime, Lou’s mom texts her to tell her that the snow has made it even more difficult to get around town. Lou looks in on Will again, and finds that he seems more feverish and disoriented. Lou panics, knowing that Nathan might have trouble getting to Granta House in the snow for his daily shift. Though she looks through the folder of notes about Will’s medical needs, she feels lost. Nathan eventually arrives and becomes frightened and irritated when he realizes that Will has had a fever all day. He explains, impatiently, that Will cannot regulate his own temperature and will need antibiotics in addition to fixes such as cold compresses and fans. Eventually, Will’s temperature sinks, though Nathan and Lou have to take his clothes off and reveal the scars on his arms. Though Lou apologizes profusely, Nathan wants only to make sure that she knows how to care for Will in his absence. Nathan heads out and Lou settles in with one of Will’s books. When Mrs. Traynor, who can’t get home because of the storm, asks Lou to spend the night, she says yes. Reading in the quiet house, Lou actually feels peaceful. She tries to reach Mr. Traynor but can’t. When Nathan calls, she tells him about this, and Nathan reveals, as obliquely as possible, that Mr. Traynor has a habit of infidelity and will most likely spend the night out while his wife is not home.

Lou visits Will in his room that evening. He is conscious and lucid but clearly in pain. She sits on his bed to move him when he asks, and eventually asks him how he became disabled. He explains that he was hit by a motorcyclist, and talks about how much he misses his extravagant life in London. Lou asks whether he might move back to London, or else whether his condition might improve, but Will is doubtful on both fronts. He asks Lou to stay and talk to him, so she sings him a silly song her father used to sing to her. She then entertains him by telling him about how she developed her unusual fashion sense, describing in detail a long-lost pair of black-and-yellow striped tights. Will teases her gently and eventually falls asleep. Lou lets him sleep except for occasionally waking him to give him medication. She is afraid to leave him, and eventually falls asleep. When she wakes, Mrs. Traynor is standing over her, and wants to know why Lou is in Will’s bed. When Lou explains the circumstances of Will’s illness, Mrs. Traynor asks accusingly why Lou chose not to call her or Mr. Traynor. While Lou is trying to think of an answer that won’t reveal what she knows about Mr. Traynor’s affair, Mr. Traynor comes home. He pretends to have been away only briefly, and takes the blame for not answering Lou’s calls, claiming to have fallen asleep early.

After a short time jump, spring arrives suddenly, but Lou is distracted by her romantic troubles. She spends the night with Patrick, happy to see him when he is so busy training for his triathlon, but though she wants to have sex, Patrick acts completely uninterested. She recounts the early days of their relationship, when she was working at a hairdresser’s and Patrick came in looking for a haircut. Though the haircut was disastrous and the job short-lived, the two began dating. Lou describes the old Patrick as a chubby, ordinary boy who liked junk food and sex, and who cared about sports as a fan rather than a participant. Lou dislikes the new side of him that has emerged since he became interested in fitness, even though it has made him more conventionally attractive. He seems completely uninterested in sex, though he claims that he is merely tired from training and is still attracted to Lou. In the meantime, Lou has very little in common with his athletic friends in the triathlon club, and wonders against her better judgment if Patrick finds the women there more attractive than her.

At work, Lou discusses these worries with Will, who notices that she seems troubled and prompts her to talk about it. She tells him about her six-year relationship with Patrick and then asks him about Alicia, his ex-girlfriend. He describes their brief relationship ruefully, describing Alicia as a wealthy and beautiful but insecure person. Lou begins a whimsical rant, detailing the privileged but empty life that she expects Alicia and Rupert to have, in such detail that Will is shocked and amused. He points out that she is skeptical about marriage and asks if that is why she has not gotten married herself, and she concurs with his assumption, declining to reveal that Patrick has not asked her to marry him. Next, Lou lists the various kinds of pain that Will experiences. Though he doesn’t complain, she has come to recognize signs that he is in pain, which happens often for a variety of reasons. On the day in question, though, Will is fairly comfortable, and the two of them go out to the garden and talk about Lou’s life. Will is shocked that she has only ever lived in their small town, and Lou takes the opportunity to share some thoughts of her own, telling Will that his shaggy hair and beard look terrible. Lou threatens to cut his hair, and though Will resists, his arguments are playful and halfhearted. After their walk, Lou sets about shaving him. She is surprised by the sensuality of the act, but tries to touch Will’s face as much as possible, guessing that he is not touched often except for strictly necessary tasks. Lou briefly leaves to get some mirrors so that Will can see his new look, but when she returns she finds a confrontation between Will, his mother, and a woman named Georgina. Georgina is yelling at Will for being selfish, while Mrs. Traynor watches in horror and tries to make her stop shouting. Will calmly introduces Georgina as his sister, who has flown in from Australia. Mrs. Traynor instructs Lou to take her lunch break, and Lou leaves immediately.

When Lou returns, the house is calm and Nathan has arrived. He seems completely clueless about the nature of the Traynors’ feud, but isn’t interested in speculating. Lou finds Will, but he is uninterested in her company, so she sets about cleaning. She overhears a conversation between Georgina and Mrs. Traynor. Georgina is crying and observes that Will seems hopeless and pessimistic. Mrs. Traynor tells her daughter that Will attempted suicide in December. Though Lou has suspected as much ever since catching sight of Will’s scars, she still feels shocked—all the more so when Mrs. Traynor tells Georgina that Lou has been hired to make sure Will can’t attempt suicide again. This, Lou thinks, explains why Will was so resentful of her for so long. The next thing that Lou overhears is even more disturbing. Georgina chides her mother for allowing Will to do something, which involves using a service called Dignitas. Mrs. Traynor responds that Will has promised her six months. The stakes become apparent to Lou: Will has asked his mother to let him commit assisted suicide, and she has agreed, provided that Will wait six months before doing so.


Moyes uses weather in these chapters as a plot device, an image, and a means of establishing mood. During chapter six, while Lou spends the night at Will’s house during his sickness, a snowstorm rages outside. This snow conveniently serves the plot function of keeping people away from the house. This means that Will’s family members can’t get to the house and that Lou has to spend the night. Therefore, the plot device of the snow allows Lou and Will to spend a rare amount of uninterrupted time together. A second purpose of the snow has less to do with plot and more to do with imagery. The contrasting images of cold weather and Will’s rising temperature makes his illness feel more dramatic and noticeable. Finally, the snow helps Moyes create an otherworldly mood. When Will and Lou are in the house during the snowstorm, whether Will is awake or asleep, they feel cut off from the outside. Moyes stresses the silence created by the snow as well as the difficulties it creates for people trying to commute, so that readers feel very keenly that Will and Lou are alone in a peaceful shared space. This allows them to have conversations they might not have had in other settings, and it also gives Lou a chance to experience true quiet, so that she is able to read and think in ways that have not been possible in her noisy home. In Chapter 7, meanwhile, spring arrives, and with it the intrusion of the outside world. Though the weather is more friendly and cheerful, it also invites visitors and takes away the feeling of solitude experienced in chapter 6. With spring comes the return of Lou and Patrick’s relationship troubles, as well as the arrival of Will’s sister and the ensuing fight.

While we have previous knowledge of Lou’s family dynamics, these two chapters tell us instead about Will’s. His conflicts are less apparent, since his genteel parents and sister are largely unwilling to discuss them explicitly, but it becomes clear here that they are much more serious. Mrs. Traynor’s unfriendliness now pales beside her husband’s infidelity, not to mention the immense conflict between Georgina, Will and Mrs. Traynor about Will’s choice to commit suicide. These conflicts are characterized by secrecy, which only seems to make them more intractable. Just as we saw with Will and Lou’s early relationship, we now see even more sharply that conflicts in the world of this novel are best solved with honesty.

The theme of suicide arises here more prominently as well. Will is unable to commit suicide himself, both because of his lack of mobility and because Lou keeps a close watch on him. In order to do so, he must hire a professional to perform the physical act of killing him. This raises questions about the ethics of his act and of his mother and sister’s responses. Is it unfair for him to ask such a thing of his mother, or is it merely an act of control over his own body, just as Patrick’s brutal workout routine is an act of control over his? Would the answer be different if Will didn’t have a disability, or if he didn’t have to inform his family of his plans? All of these questions are raised, for the reader, by the conversation that Lou overhears. The threat of Will’s death hits particularly heavily because of its place in the novel’s structure. In recent scenes, Lou has developed a relationship to Will’s body, and both she and the reader have become more aware of Will’s physicality beyond the practical and medical challenges it presents. In particular, the recent scene in which Lou takes care to touch Will’s face while she shaves him establishes a physical relationship between the two of them. Therefore, the possibility that Will might die is even more difficult to absorb, both for Lou and for us, the readers.